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Posted by on Nov 15, 2017 in Tell Me Why | 0 comments

Where Are the World’s Earliest Paintings?

Where Are the World’s Earliest Paintings?

The earliest known paintings, cave Paintings or drawings are of animals and are at least 35,000 years old and were found in caves in the district of Maros, located in Bantimurung district, South Sulawesi, Indonesia, according to datings announced in 2014. Previously it was believed that the earliest paintings were in Europe.

The earliest figurative paintings in Europe date back to the Aurignacian period, approximately 30,000 to 32,000 years ago, and are found in the Chauvet Cave in France, and in the Coliboaia Cave in Romania. The earliest non-figurative rock art dates back to approximately 40,000 years ago, the date given both to a disk in the El Castillo cave and a hand stencilin Timpuseng cave Sulawesi, Indonesia.

figurative paintings in europe

There are similar later paintings in Africa, Australia and South America, continuing until recent times in some places, though there is a worldwide tendency for open air rock art to succeed paintings deep in caves. The earliest paintings on the walls of caves in France and Spain are of animals, mostly of horses, bulls and bison. The most famous of those in France are at Lascaux, in the Dordogne area. They are painted in thick black outline. Some of the bodies are filled in with red or brown paint.

On the edge of the roof of the cave is a frieze of horses and bulls. It looks as though the cave people were trying to decorate the roof of the cave to a pattern. Other famous early paintings are at the place called Altamira, in the province of Santander, Spain. Here the walls of the cave are covered with standing and squatting bison, thickly outlined in black and filled in with red.

The people who did the paintings took a lot of trouble to mix the colors properly. The black they used came from soot, and the red and yellow from iron. They stored the colors in bones and skulls, and mixed them with water, then put the paint on the walls with their fingers or brushes.

Some of the paintings were not purely for decoration. At Lascaux there are drawings of oxen and goats about to fall into a pit. Probably the people thought that if they painted the animals they wanted to kill on their cave walls, they would catch them more easily.

cave painting at nawarla gabarnmang, australia

Cave paintings are also known as “parietal art”.They are painted drawings on cave walls or ceilings, mainly of prehistoric origin, dated to some 40,000 years ago (around 38,000 BCE) in Eurasia. The exact purpose of the Paleolithic cave paintings is not known. Evidence suggests that they were not merely decorations of living areas since the caves in which they have been found do not have signs of ongoing habitation. They are also often located in areas of caves that are not easily accessible.

Some theories hold that cave paintings may have been a way of communicating with others, while other theories ascribe a religious or ceremonial purpose to them. The paintings are remarkably similar around the world, with animals being common subjects that give the most impressive images. Humans mainly appear as images of hands, mostly hand stencils made by blowing pigment on a hand held to the wall.

Content for this question contributed by Richard Crawford, resident of Milliken, Weld County, Colorado, USA